Mesa, AZ – Looking to keep their top-four national ranking intact, the Mesa Community College baseball team (28-9, 16-8 ACCAC) stayed hot on Tuesday afternoon in Mesa to sweep a double header from the Arizona Western College Matadors (27-10, 9-8 ACCAC) by scores of 1-0 and 9-4.
The first game of the double header didn't see much offense take place, but the starting pitching for both sides was a main reason for that.
Mesa's sophomore Chase Merriman and Arizona Western's sophomore Eric Ligda gave up eight total hits between the two of them, but with a combined five strikeouts and only one run allowed, these right-handers stole the show to start off the series.
While both teams went scoreless through the first three innings of play, that fortune changed for the Thunderbirds in the fourth when sophomore Garrett Smith laced a double down the third baseline to score sophomore Esteban Martinez and give Mesa their first lead of the game, 1-0.
The Thunderbirds looked to add to their lead in the fifth inning, but Ligda was able to work himself out of a bases loaded jam to keep the Matadors in the game entering the final innings.
Arizona Western led the seventh inning off with a single from freshman Spencer Packard, but Mesa's freshman reliever Jake Suddreth locked down his twelfth save of the season when he forced an inning ending double play to seal the 1-0 victory for the Thunderbirds in game one.
After not scoring any runs in the first game, Arizona Western started the second game off with a bang when sophomore Landon Riker launched a leadoff homerun over the right field wall to give the Matadors the early 1-0 lead.
The Thunderbirds were able to tie it at 1-1 in the bottom half of the inning, but the Matadors took back the lead, 2-1, in the third when freshman Snaider Torrealba scored freshman Najee Gaskins from third base with a sacrifice fly ball out to center.
When a RBI double from sophomore Hunter Bross tied the game up at 2-2 in the fourth inning, the game stayed tied until the bottom of the seventh when a RBI double from sophomore Kody Funderburk helped the Thunderbirds take a 4-2 lead after seven innings of play.
Arizona Western cut the deficit to 4-3 in the eighth inning when freshman Sean Roby roped a RBI double out to centerfield, but a five run outburst by Mesa in the home half of the eighth put the Thunderbirds in good shape with a 9-3 lead heading to the ninth.
Suddreth came back out in the second game to shut down the Matadors once again, and secured the double-header sweep in game two by a score of 9-4.
Since Suddreth entered the game in a save situation during the eighth inning, the freshman right-hander secured his thirteenth save of the season, tying teammate Nick Ohanian's team record from last season.
Having won seven out of their last eight games, the Thunderbirds will look to keep up that positive energy when they play host to the Grand Canyon University Antelopes Club team on Thursday afternoon at the Mesa Baseball Complex. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. MST.